Missouri women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton loves to study.
“I study all the time,” Pingeton said. “I hope I study until the day I die, to be honest with you. I think there’s always room for growth in everything we do.”
Pingeton and her coaching staff have done plenty of studying this offseason to create a style of play to fit a new-look Tigers team missing a consistent post presence, a key feature of Pingeton’s recent squads.
With Jordan Frericks graduating and Cierra Porter’s medical retirement, Missouri will have just one player this season over 6-foot-2: freshman forward Brittany Garner, who is 6-foot-4.
As a result, Pingeton will be forced to be creative when it comes to deciding who plays what position. She said she wants her team to embrace what she’s calling “positionless basketball,” and embrace the need to be versatile.
“We’re going to be playing differently than we ever have,” Pingeton said. “Honestly, I think it’s going to be a fun style for us.”
The team will be going more up-tempo on offense, taking shots earlier in the shot clock and trying to get out in transition more often. Pingeton foresees more dribble-drive offense this season, as opposed to last season’s regimented, half-court approach.
Senior guard Sophie Cunningham said the team will be basing its style of play off an unlikely source: Florida Gulf Coast, the team that knocked the Tigers out of the 2018 NCAA Tournament in a first-round game March 17.
“We’re basing our whole offense off them,” Cunningham said. “With our lack of size, we have to switch it up.”
In order for that change to be successful, redshirt senior guard Lauren Aldridge said her team will have to put in the work. She said that she, Cunningham and others have increased their shot numbers per week by 1,000 shots or more.
“For us to really be able to expand the court and spread it out, we’re going to have to be able to knock down open shots, and that’s what FGCU did a great job of,” Aldridge said.
Defensively, Pingeton said her team will consider embracing an all-out press, all the time.
“We’ve talked about [full-court press] a lot,” she said. “Being a guard-heavy team, we’re going to have some opportunities to expand our defense a little bit, so it’s something that we’ll put a lot of time into early this season and see how quickly we pick up on that.”
Aldridge said the team intends to also take defensive cues from Auburn and Tennessee, two league opponents that used defensive pressure early and often against the Tigers.
“Just kind of being up in people’s grill a little bit more and giving some pressure [will be a focus],” she said.
Cunningham said the scheme changes will also give her and junior guard Amber Smith more opportunities to score.
“A lot of big girls, if they’re going to guard us on the perimeter, we’re going to take them to the rim and if they’re going to sag off, we’re going to shoot it,” she said. “I think it brings a lot of opportunity for a lot of our players.”
Pingeton said the team began to implement its new system in earnest this week. Although the changes are still in their rudimentary stages, she believes they will give her team more opportunities to be successful – and match up better with teams that gave previous Missouri teams trouble.
“I think even having more of a dribble-drive offense looks a little bit different than the spacing and the screening, and to be honest with you I hope we can do a little bit of both,” Pingeton said. “I think you have to have a little bit of both in your back pocket to be successful in the SEC.”
Supervising editor is Theo DeRosa.